Two hundred and seventy-nine Yarmouth men served in the state militia or Continental Army during the Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783), according to records drawn from the massive 17 volume series, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War; A Compilation from the Archives (1896 – 1908).  Some of these men served in both the militia and the Army at different times during the War.

The total number of Yarmouth veterans is almost certainly an undercount that will grow as research by the Dennis-Yarmouth Revolutionary War Recognition Committee continues. (Dennis was part of Yarmouth until 1793 when the East and West Precincts became two separate towns.)

There are few sailors on this veterans list because original records covering maritime service are not as numerous as they are for the Army and the state militia. Ongoing Recognition Committee research is likely to identify more naval service veterans from Yarmouth.

Taylors Go To War

Local history research indicates that there were multiple groups of Yarmouth veterans made up of immediate family members and this is the case with the Taylors from the farm. It may also well be that the farm Taylors include the town’s oldest and youngest soldiers.

The family group was comprised of a father and three of his sons who served in the Continental Army and the state militia for an estimated total of about eleven years.

  • Reuben Taylor (1729 – 1785), the father, was 47 years old when he marched off to Fort Ticonderoga in 1776 as a private in Colonel Aaron Willard’s Continental Regiment. While Reuben was in rural New York, son Samuel was serving with General Washington’s forces defending New York City. Reuben also served briefly in Captain Elisha Hedge’s Yarmouth militia company in September 1778 when the unit responded to a marauding British naval force accompanied by about 4000 troops which burned many homes and businesses along the south coast of Massachusetts. In 1774, Reuben was a member of a town committee to see that no British tea was consumed in Yarmouth.
  • Reuben’s son, Shubel Taylor (1762 – 1792), was not yet fourteen years of age when he began a five month stint in a militia company stationed at Castle Island in Boston Harbor in June 1776. Not long after that experience, a now fifteen-year-old Shubel enlisted for a three-year term in the 14th Massachusetts Continental Line Regiment (1777 – 1780) which saw action at the battles of Saratoga and Monmouth. Military records show that Shubel was hospitalized during the 1777 – 1778 winter encampment at Valley Forge, but unlike many of his fellow soldiers, he survived the diseases that killed so many of his comrades including twelve men from Yarmouth. When Shubel mustered out of the 14th Regiment in early 1780, he was an eighteen-year-old sergeant who, no doubt, had acquired qualities of wisdom far beyond his years. Nothing is known about Shubel’s life after he returned home, but he died, unmarried, at the age of thirty. He is buried at the Ancient Cemetery in Yarmouth Port.
  • Hezekiah Taylor (1758 – ????) was not yet eighteen years old when he became a member of Captain Joshua Gray’s Yarmouth Minuteman company in 1775. He later served several separate enlistments in the Army and militia between July 1775 and September 1777. Details of Hezekiah’s life after his recorded military service are sketchy. We know he married Sarah Parker in March 1779 and that they had a daughter, Temperance (1779 – 1796), but then his trail disappears in the mid-1780s. His father’s will in February 1784 left him a small amount of money “if he ever returns home” which suggests that Hezekiah had gone to sea and not been heard from since.
  • Samuel Taylor (1755 – 1841), who after the war went on to a successful maritime career as a blue water ship master, served in state militia and Continental Army units for a total of about five years. On Christmas Day night in 1776 Private Samuel Taylor’s Continental regiment was part of Washington’s forces which crossed the icy Delaware River on their way to what turned out to be an American victory at the Battle of Trenton. In addition, Samuel served as an orderly sergeant in the 14th Continental Line Regiment (1777 – 1780) which saw action at the battles of Saratoga and Monmouth. He was also detailed to the elite Continental light infantry brigade commanded by General “Mad Anthony” Wayne which captured the British garrison at Stony Point on the Hudson River in a daring, “bayonets only” night attack on July 16, 1779. Samuel’s obituary in The Yarmouth Register declared that he was present at the battles of Bunker Hill and Yorktown, but research has yet to confirm those claims, something that Samuel himself never mentioned in his own veteran’s pension application or in the many depositions he gave on behalf of comrades in arms from Yarmouth applying for their own military pensions. 
Samuel Taylor’s Home and Gravesite
Visitors to Yarmouth can tour the ancient farmhouse that Samuel Taylor (1755 - 1841) built sometime in the mid 1780s when he returned home from the War a penniless veteran about to begin a maritime career that would see him rise to the rank of ship master and make some 30 voyages across the Atlantic. The house is located at the town owned Taylor-Bray Farm in Yarmouth Port, MA.
Samuel Is buried at the Ancient Cemetery in Yarmouth Port with his wife Lucretia (1761 - 1853) and daughter Betsey (1797 - 1833).

The story of the Taylor family’s patriotism would not be complete without mentioning Temperance Taylor, who held the family and the homestead together during the years her husband and three of her sons were absent from the farm. Like all too much of the farm’s past, Temperance’s story is missing corroborating letters, a diary or even oral history tales, but there is little doubt that she made a significant, if indirect, contribution to the War effort. 

Read more about Yarmouth during the Revolution at this Historical Society of Old Yarmouth link and in Jack Duggan’s “Soldiers of the Revolution” essay.

Taylor-Bray Farm Preservation Association
P.O. Box 66
108 Bray Farm Road North
Yarmouth Port, MA 02675